|GATE - 1/95 - Waste Water: Resource Management and Environmental Hygiene (GTZ GATE, 1995, 56 p.)|
Eschborn - The Information Service on Appropriate Technology (ISAT) is an information advisory projecton the use of appropriate technologies. Located at the Head Office of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in Eschborn, Germany, ISAT is the successor to GATE's Question and Answer Service.
Documentation on AT is a key instrument for centralized information and has been a major element of project work. ISAT is used by project staff, GTZ Head Office staff and visitors from other organizations.
What services does the AT Documentation Center offer today; When setting up the Question and Answer Service on Appropriate Technology in 1977 an information center was established to gather all the know-how and knowledge needed to answer queries on technical and organizational issues. This later became the AT Documentation Center - with its wide range of specialist areas.
Subject areas: Based on the SATIS classification which was widely used at that time, the documentation still covers the following subjects: renewable energies, water supply and sanitation, agriculture, food processing, crafts and small industries, construction and health/medicine.
Across-the-board issues such as project management, information and documentation, development policy and AT theory are also covered, together with numerous reference literature, bibliographies, address books and encyclopaedia.
Type of documents: Focus is placed on so-called "grey literature", i.e. documents which are often difficult to come by, such as project reports, manuals and practical instructions, mostly from partner countries in the South. The aim is to provide information to supplement the often very technical literature available, which frequently neglects the cultural dimension of technology and development.
ISAT's close cooperation with NGOs and contacts with Third World countries were vital assets in procuring such literature.
Languages: Practically all literature is obtained from partner countries and is destined for re-use in the South. Emphasis was placed from the very beginning on ensuring that the documents are available in the world languages: English, French and Spanish titles therefore prevail over German.
Present stock: The ISAT documentation contains some 18,000 documents classified in three sections.
- The AT documentation proper with some 7,200 documents. Agricultural subjects dominate in this section.
- The entire corpus of literature from the former biogas dissemination project has been incorporated over the course of time. Split into two collections, the documents, some 4,500 titles on biogas, biomass and pertinent areas, consist of specialized literature and project reports and experience reports.
- Literature from the former GTZ Database project on agriculture and rural development; in all c. 6,300 documents.
Access: the familiar card index used to research the ISAT documentation at the beginning has succumbed to the age of electronics and was transferred to the CDS/ISIS system at the end of the eighties. This database program from UNESCO is nowadays used by the GTZ and many partner organizations.
CDS/ISIS has the advantage of being adaptable to many varying data processing purposes, it has a multilingual menu package, and non-commercial organizations can obtain it gratis from UNESCO.
All three ISAT literature databases - the AT documentation, the biogas documentation and the data project - can be accessed via CDS/ISIS.
Parallel to transferring AT documentation to computer processing, English language keyword lists were drawn up on various areas. The keywords guarantee that controlled and uniform descriptors are used for the documents. Some ISAT thesauri and lists on specific subject areas have been adopted by other organizations EULEISA members use the lists on agriculture, for example.
Other sources of information: ISAT provides numerous other sources of information to complement its documentation:
The Institution File with more than 1,000 entries on governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions working in development policy in general or of special significance in relation to appropriate technology. Entries contain the address of the institution and frequently further information on their work areas, size of the organization, contact persons etc.
The AT Consultant File commissioned by ISAT in recent years now contains data on more than 500 independent experts consultants and consultant firms in Germany. The data are updated on a running basis and can be obtained from the ATVerband in Bonn. CV's and references on the consultants are also available from there.
To round up, ISAT presently subscribes to about 200 pertinent journals primarily from developing countries, which are available for visitors to consult.
An overview of the information available in ISAT's AT Documentation Center as at January 1995 is given in the table.
Services provided by the ISAT documentation: The varied information basis spawns the services offered by the AT Documentation Center.
Activities focus at the present time on transterring information: in practice this means giving ISAT staff, GTZ colleagues and external users (project staff, NGOs worldwide, external experts, consultants in universities) full access to the information available. Interested visitors to the Documentation Center can research and copy relevant literature, and outside users can send inquiries for literature references and information packages on specific themes.
Specialized bibliographies on ISAT literature are a significant help to field staff in their project briefing phase. The interlinked processing of the various areas covered by ISAT and its networking within the cooperation partner program), generate indepth non-printed information on activities by partner organization, cross references and access to experience from GTZ activities.
This allows practice-related information packages to be compiled.
Methods and instruments: Not only is information on specific areas transferred but also details of the methods and instruments available. Activities in this area is to be intensified in future.
ISAT's instruments - e.g. the keyword lists and the database structures - can also be passed on to other information centers. I + D centers in partner organizations in the South who do not have the capacity to develop their own instruments can tap on ISAT's tested tools. Such activities facilitate cooperation and mutual exchange of information and benefit all involved.
ISAT also provides support in planning, establishing and developing information and documentation centers at NGOs. Drawing on its own experience over many years, ISAT is able to give sound, practice-related consultancy.
The future: The benefits of worldwide electronic networking are now to be exploited so that all the potentials can be tapped to the full. ISAT is on the E-mail network, and one of the next steps will be to make the ISAT information available online, knowing that not all organizations, projects and individuals will have access to these technical potentials.
ISAT, and specifically its Documentation Center, is always interested in contacts and exchange of experience with other information centers. We would be happy to answer any enquiries, provide further information or just hear your views.
Dirk Franken/Regina Tumpach
Tel.: ++49 (0)6196793184
Fax: ++49 (0)6196797352